Winter Paddle Below Monte Rio and Some More On Yesterday’s Accident at the River’s Mouth

Thursday December 24, 2015 Monte Rio CA.

Kenny in yesterday’s comments asked these questions about yesterdays kayak going out the river’s mouth and the guy dying in the ocean.

Kenny asks

There is some unanswered questions about this tragedy we might never find out:
One question that sticks in my head is if the two kayakers were seen safe near the jetty after shooting the mouth, how or why did Mr. Wood end up back in the ocean? I noticed your photo of the recovered kayak on the beach and the photo the PD posted were different boats, maybe his friends?

I reply

After thinking on this a bit since yesterday. Here’s what I think happened. First off, note their kayaks are play boats or whitewater boats, great for white water and playing in the waves.

So, it appears they came into the river’s mouth, pulled up in the eddy behind the jetty, then the one guy heads out into the ocean to play in the waves, the other guy stays in the eddy in the yellow boat and eventually goes to shore, likely to find someone to call for help, if someone already hadn’t seen what happened.

So, I think their original intention was to play in the waves in the ocean. If they’d driven to the overlook and looked down before they put in, the mouth wasn’t as bad as it was because it was still high tide, so the current would have been a lot less. But by the time they got their boats in the water at the boat ramp and made it down to the river’s mouth, the tide changed to low and the river started to dump water into the ocean big time creating much more current in the mouth. Water was raging out of the mouth by the time they got into it.

The yellow kayak guy never fell into the water to my knowledge. He stayed in the eddy while the other guy went out to play and didn’t make it. The guy’s boat that went out to play was purplish and found on the north shore, just north of the open mouth, not on the side the PD guy was on. So, the yellow kayak was the only boat the PD guy could see as he never was on the north shore to my knowledge.

This is the yellow kayak, right next to the eddy where they were safe. This is the boat of the guy who was safe and I don’t think he fell in.  It doesn’t look yellow in the picture because I’m shooting into the bright sun. And this is the boat the PD person shot a bit later on the beach by the rescue guys near the jetty.kayak


This is the purple boat of the guy who didn’t make it on the north beach, just above Haystack rock. The rescue guys are draining the water out of it to carry it off.boat


Play it safe

So today, after giving it some thought, I decided to give Jenner another day to calm down and for the high tide to move into the afternoon as crossing the river while the tide was going out yesterday wasn’t real safe and I could of gotten into some trouble if I’d lost it and today it was looking like it would be similar to yesterday.

Monte Rio

That leaves good ol Monte Rio. I made sure I had my flat shovel as the boat ramp would likely be full of mud as the river has gone down a bit, which leaves muddy deposits on the ramp.

There was some mud on the ramp which I shoveled aside before unloading my boat. It’s real slurpee stuff and gets all over everything if you step in it. After that, I unloaded my boat and parked the car. The river water is still real muddy. Remember that’s the only time spawning fish are safe, so this is actually a good thing.boatramp


High tide at Monte Rio too

The high tide at Jenner backs water up past Monte Rio and today the high tide was 6.6ft. again, so that slows the river current a bit.

I’m headed down river with some sun and not much wind, just below Monte Rio.Monterio


Let her drift

I’m just letting her drift with the current and enjoying things. That’s Villa Grande hole ahead down the river.



I didn’t see a lot of bird life out, maybe because the day started out raining and most of them flew off to a nicer spot.

I did go by this grebe just as I was pulling into the Villa Grande area.grebe


I sat in this spot at in the Villa Grande hole and just watched for about an hour. Very peaceful, looking up river.river


Looking down the river from that spot, which I’ll soon head down. Clouds are starting to move in more.river2


This little bird was feeding, jumping around in these redwood branches, right in front of me. It kept hopping around teasing me to get a picture. It has a red spot on it’s head. Not sure what it is. I’d call it a little yellow bird. :O) Update: Marty in comments says this is a ruby  crowned kinglet.bird


And just in front of me, this little bird came in and started feeding on things in the debrie. It’s tail bobs up and down all the time, so it must be a bobber.bobber


Dark and rainy

I headed on down the river just drifting along when it started to get dark, then started raining on me. Lucky I was almost to a big redwood tree I could pull under, that green thing in the middle of this picture. I pulled in and sat while the winds started gusting and I was glad I wasn’t down at Jenner today.raintree


After a half hour or so, the rain showers passed and the sun came out and my spot under the redwood tree looked like this, looking back up the river.upriver


Tides going out soon

About this time I was thinking the tide will go out down at Jenner soon and the water would drop at the boat ramp and I’d be back in the mud, so maybe I should cut it short today, just in case, so I paddled back up to the Villa Grande hole and sat in this spot. Soon a guy came out from Villa Grande and started up the river on his paddle board. You can just barely see him in this picture.kid


Maybe this will help. He’s paddling up the middle of the river into a lot of current which is a lot of work, but he was a young man with more energy than I have.paddlekid


Edges is where it’s at

Eventually I headed up the river too, but along the edges where there isn’t a lot of current. It wasn’t long before I passed the young lad. Once I was ahead of him, I tried to demonstrate how easy it was to go up the side, but he didn’t seem to get the idea and just kept paddling against the current.

Just below Monte Rio, I stopped in a calm spot and waited for him to catch up. When he got across from me,  I asked if he was out for some exercise? He answered yes. The tide at Jenner was going out and the current was getting stronger right at this point, so I didn’t think he’d make it much further. I have to admit he did good to get this far. But he turned around right after I took this picture of him paddling up


I continued up the river along it’s side, deciding to go to the right channel by the little island just below Monte Rio as I figured it might be easier to get up through the current at the top of the channel. I hang close to these trees to get through the current, so close to those bushes, my paddle got caught on some of them. I’ve learned that’s the only way to get up through the current. There is less current and less wind on the edges of the river, so that’s the place to be if you want to paddle up


A good crossing

Once I broke out of that channel things got easier as I pulled into this spot across from the boat ramp. I had to cross over the river in this spot, but I figure it was simple compared to what I’d have to do down at Jenner today to cross to the boat ramp. Here I just paddled out into the current and and let it take me across, coming in below the ramp, but then letting the upriver eddy take me back up to the ramp.rampcrossing


Almost lost my boat

I was back in time before the water level dropped from low tide  which meant no mud. I pulled in, stepped out of my boat and set my paddle and pack down just up the ramp and out of any mud thinking my boat was ok for a moment. When I turned back around, my boat had moved two feet out into the water and was fast moving further. What to do, get my paddle or just step in the water and get the boat. If I didn’t get it real soon, I’d have to swim to get it. I started for the paddle then instead, turned and stepped into the water and grabbed the boat, only getting one foot wet. That was close.

The reason I’d left my boat in the water is I needed to shake IT around in the water a bit to make sure all the mud was off, which I did and put it on the car.

I headed on home and was taking a bit of a nap, when I heard the rain coming down hard and the sky darkened up, so I’d left in time to avoid that.

Nice day on the river.

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5 Responses to Winter Paddle Below Monte Rio and Some More On Yesterday’s Accident at the River’s Mouth

  1. Patti Godwin says:

    You’re always safe. My kayak friends call those low branches along the shores, strainers.
    Stay safe and as always thanks for the updates.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey Bob, happy holidays to you. Looks like it might be time for a Monte Rio to Jenner float. We’ll
    talk about it. Stay away from the mouth of the river. Ray

  3. Marty says:

    the little bird is a ruby crown kinglet.

  4. Ken Solbakken says:

    Thanks for taking the time to figure out and explain what most likely happened at the mouth on Wednesday. No less of a tragedy, not sure why, but it sits a little better with me. As we travel through life realizing how precious each day is, my risk taking is a little more calculated. Your experience and gentle ways of sharing the many treasures and hazards on the river are priceless! Kenny

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